Nerve Deafness or Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Nerve deafness is also known by the name of sensorineural hearing loss or SNHL.

It is a condition resulting from sensory cells damage in the inner ear. It is generally a condition that is fraught with hearing problems such as either complete loss of hearing, or uneven hearing. It is expressed in a person’s loss of sensitivity to the higher tones while average and low ones are perceived without any problem. High-pitched noises represent a problem for such patients. As a result, a person is unable to hear as a healthy one does and therefore can have his live and abilities limited.

One of the characteristic features is inability to distinguish consonants. As it is mostly high noises that are in charge of the process of distinguishing, it might be a problem for a person to understand another person’s speech when there are any noises on the background. This is basically what nerve deafness is.

However, the condition has got some peculiar features such as the ability to hear tones that are really loud. This phenomenon comes under the name of recruitment and it is definitely the symptom of nerve damage. Seniors most frequently suffer from it. However, modern medicine has methods of treatment for nerve deafness. As long as there is nerve damage already has taken place, it is possible to apply medical treatment, which is successfully done in many cases.

Nerve deafness can cause a complete hearing loss if it has reached its worst form. Actually, the condition can be caused by an infection but it can also be a result of some vestibular system pathology. One of the most frequent conditions relates to nerve deafness is tinnitus, which is a high pitched ringing in ears.

In order to understand how the condition occurs, one should understand that inner ear contains very small, even tiny cells that are nerve endings at the same time. Hearing sounds appear as a result of these cells functioning. They hear the sound and then transmit it to the brain in the form of an electrical signal. After that the translation of the signal into the language of noises and words happens. This is how it works. In case of nerve deafness there is some damage to the nerve cells and therefore they are unable to perform their functions as they should and hearing loss occurs. Unfortunately, the condition cannot be treated to the extent that a person could hear as well as he used to, however, as it was mentioned, there are ways to improve hearing.


Among the most frequent reasons for nerve deafness to develop is head trauma, or acoustic/barotrauma. Genetics has frequently an impact and so does an injury at birth. Any vascular disease can evoke hearing loss and also a lot of different infections.

Besides, nerve deafness is a result of more than 400 known genetic syndromes and even more frequently it is something that happens when a pregnant mother was ill with some kind of infection.

It is characteristic that some people may lose hearing with time gradually. But it also happens so that hearing loss is sudden. Actually there are four types of hearing loss that are the result of nerve deafness – they are described actually as mild, moderate, profound and severe hearing loss.

Besides the apparent signs of nerve deafness there are others such as tinnitus and vertigo, pain in the ear, hyperacusis and an interesting condition when a person has a problem with understanding female voices when background noises are loud.

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